Policy 7.26 Increasing the use of the Blue Ribbon Network for freight



A  The Mayor seeks to increase the use of the Blue Ribbon Network to transport freight.

Planning decisions

B  Development proposals:

a  should protect existing facilities for waterborne freight traffic, in particular safeguarded wharves should only be used for waterborne freight handling use. The redevelopment of safeguarded wharves for other land uses should only be accepted if the wharf is no longer viable or capable of being made viable for waterborne freight handling, (criteria for assessing the viability of wharves are set out in paragraph 7.77). Temporary uses should only be allowed where they do not preclude the wharf being reused for waterborne freight handling uses (see paragraph 7.78). The Mayor will review the designation of safeguarded wharves prior to 2012.

b  which increase the use of safeguarded wharves for waterborne freight transport, especially on wharves which are currently not handling freight by water, will be supported

c  adjacent or opposite safeguarded wharves should be designed to minimise the potential for conflicts of use and disturbance

d  close to navigable waterways should maximize water transport for bulk materials, particularly during demolition and construction phases.

LDF preparation

C  Within LDFs boroughs should identify locations that are suitable for additional waterborne freight. 

Supporting text

7.75  Using water based transport for freight is fully in line with the NPPF, in particular paragraphs 29, 30 and 41, promoting sustainable modes of transport and paragraph 143 specifically referring to the safeguarding of wharfage to facilitate minerals handling.  Water transport is recognised as one of the most sustainable modes, particularly for low value, non time-critical bulk movements.

7.76  The safeguarding of a number of wharves is a well-established aspect of planning in London. The safeguarding directions, some of which have been in existence since 1997, have successfully maintained a number of sites which can now be used to transport goods through London. The Mayor will support positive action, including the use of compulsory purchase powers where necessary, to bring inactive sites into use. The specific sites that are safeguarded are set out in the Safeguarded Wharves Implementation Report January 2005. Appropriate access to the highway network and relevant freight handling infrastructure such as jetties should also be protected. The safeguarding will be reviewed and updated approximately every five years. The next review will look at opportunities to consolidate wharves, expand the use of water freight and consider whether it is appropriate to safeguard any wharf facilities on London’s canal network.

7.77  The redevelopment of safeguarded wharves should only be accepted if the wharf is no longer viable or capable of being made viable for waterborne freight handling uses. The only exception to this would be for a strategic proposal of essential benefit for London, which cannot be planned for and delivered on any other site in Greater London. The viability of a wharf is dependent on:

  • its size, shape, navigational access, road access, rail access (where possible), planning history, environmental impact and surrounding land use context
  • its geographical location, in terms of proximity and connections to existing and potential market areas
  • the existing and potential contribution it can make towards reducing road based freight movements
  • existing and potential relationships between the wharf and other freight handling sites or land uses
  • the location and availability of capacity at comparable alternative wharves, having regard to current and projected Port of London and wharf capacity and market demands.

7.78  Appropriate temporary uses on vacant safeguarded wharves can ensure that investment in the wharf is maintained and image problems are minimised for the wider area. Temporary uses must maintain the existing freight handling infrastructure to a specified standard, be limited by a temporary permission with a specific end date and priority should be given to uses which require a waterside location. Temporary uses should not be permitted where a permanent freight handling use is available.

7.79  Some wharves are increasingly surrounded by different land uses that do not have an industrial or freight purpose. Many wharves are in the opportunity areas identified in Chapter 2. The challenge is to minimize conflict between the new and the old land uses. This must be met through modifications and safeguards built into new and established developments. Wharf operators should use appropriate available means to mitigate the environmental impacts of freight handling. New development next to or opposite wharves should utilise the layout, use and environmental credentials of buildings to design away these potential conflicts. Appropriate highway access to wharves for commercial vehicles needs to be maintained when considering proposals for development of neighbouring sites.

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